There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly

Watch second graders from Boone Meadow Elementary use Orff instruments to perform the book “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly” by Simms Taback.

This activity requires that the notes of each instrument be labeled using numbers, using painters tape and a Sharpie. Tell younger students not to pay attention to the letters this time, only the numbers. To get the instruments set up correctly, label the bass notes 1-13 starting on the bottom C. Then label the altos 1-13 but this time starting on the low E, and finally label the sopranos 1-13 starting on the low G. Once you get past the high A you continue the sequence from the bottom C. This way, when the students all play their note labeled “1,” a C major chord will sound (CEG). As students continue up the instrument the harmony will continue as well, and the result will be beautiful music at the mention of a simple sequence of numbers.

This lesson was created and taught by William C. Doublestein from Boone Meadow Elementary during the 2022-2023 school year. Subscribe to the Bow Tie Music YouTube channel at for hundreds more great lesson ideas.  You can also follow Bow Tie Music at, and be sure to come back to for new lessons posted regularly!

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